Poole - one of Britain's biggest harbours - will no longer have an RNLI all-weather lifeboat. The vessel is being scrapped and instead a new D-class lifeboat will be stationed at the coastal town.

The RNLI has decided to scrap the all-weather Tyne class lifeboat from Poole.

From 12 November 2016, a new D-class inshore lifeboat will be stationed in the seaside resort.

The D-class lifeboat is the smallest in the RNLI’s fleet.

The charity said the stretch of coast around Poole Bay and harbour will now be served by the 25-knot Shannon class all-weather lifeboat at Swanage, the 25-knot Severn class at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight and inshore lifeboats from Mudeford and Poole.

The decision to replace the City of Sheffield, which is lovingly called the “big orange boat” by visitors to the town’s quay, comes following the RNLI’s regular five-yearly coast review.

Poole RNLI's City of Sheffield

Poole RNLI’s City of Sheffield. Credit: Dave Riley/RNLI

It will mean that Poole lifeboat station will be reassigned from an all-weather lifeboat station to an inshore lifeboat station.

“Commonly known as the work horse of the RNLI, the D class is highly manoeuvrable and capable of 25 knots, it has the ability to operate at speed in the busy waters and ideal for the shallow areas within Poole Harbour,” said the RNLI, which is based art Poole.

“It will complement the work of the Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Sgt Bob Martin, which has been based at the station since 2008,” it added.

The RNLI volunteer coxswain of Poole lifeboat, Jonathan Clark, said he will miss the City of Sheffield.

“I know back in 1998 when I officially became coxswain, it was one of the proudest moments in my life, to be given the opportunity to take command of a Poole all-weather lifeboat was a privilege that few experience,” he commented.

“I am very proud to have been the coxswain and along with other crew and station volunteers, I will miss going out on the lifeboat and not seeing it alongside but that feeling of pride and honour of all that we have done, will always remain with me, you can’t take that away,” stressed Clark.

The coxswain said that crew members were currently being trained ahead of the arrival of the new D-class lifeboat,  and “plans have been drawn up for the new floating boathouse which will be in situ when the bridge (Poole Lifting Bridge) work has ended.”

The City of Sheffield has launched 557 times since arriving on station in 2001 and the number of people rescued, including lives saved, is 650.

Poole RNLI's Tyne class and Atlantic working together in Poole Bay

Poole RNLI’s Tyne class and Atlantic class lifeboats working together in Poole Bay. Credit: Dave Riley/RNLI

Plans are underway to pay tribute to the all-weather lifeboat on the weekend of its departure.

Coxswain Clark will take the wheel of the City of Sheffield for its final launch from Poole lifeboat station at 11am on 12 November 2016.

He will be joined by other long serving crew members, 2nd Coxswain Andy Elton, Gavin McGuinness, Anne Millman, former full time station Mechanic Paul Taylor and mechanics; Wayne Belcher, Neil Ceconi, along with volunteer crew Oli Mallinson, Adrian Rosser and long serving volunteers and Deputy Coxswains Glen Mallen and Dave Riley.

Local seafarers will join them in a farewell flotilla as it leaves the quay after a Blessing of Thanks by Poole lifeboat chaplain, Lucy Holt.

It will go on passage to Weymouth RNLI lifeboat station where the volunteer crew will go ashore.

Weymouth was one of the first ports of call for the Tyne class lifeboat when it arrived on station in 2001.

On Remembrance Sunday, 13 November 2016, the lifeboat will return to Poole Bay and rendezvous with the inshore lifeboat to lay a wreath, at the eleventh hour, as a mark of respect.

Poole RNLI Lifeboat Station crew and officials

Poole RNLI Lifeboat Station crew and officials. Credit: Nathan Williams/RNLI

The lifeboat will then moor alongside Poole Quay from 12pm to 2pm, to give the people of Poole the opportunity to have look at the lifeboat before it departs the quay for the very last time.

RNLI volunteer lifeboat operation manager, Rod Brown said he hoped many would turn out to see the City of Sheffield for the last time.

“Though as a station we have known for a fair few years that this day is going to happen, you cannot prepare yourself as to how you are going to feel as the lifeboat has been a big part of the volunteers and fundraisers lives for the past 15 years, our lives have literally revolved around it,” he said.

“There have been some challenging times out on the water but the lifeboat never let us down,” continued Brown.

“It would be great if people could join us either afloat on the water or come along to the quay to give her the send-off she deserves,” he stressed.